NPA rookie Jason Lamarche wants dog sales banned, but no Vancouver pet stores are selling

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      A dog-loving West End renter and first-time city-council candidate still believes his call for a city bylaw forbidding Vancouver pet stores to sell dogs is a good move even though the Georgia Straight could not find a single one that still does.

      Initially, Jason Lamarche, a council candidate running with the Non-Partisan Association, claimed that he had been told Urban Puppy Shop still sells pups. However, store manager Bianca Steinmetz told the Straight the store stopped this practice in the spring.

      “Regardless of how many there are, the fact of the matter is, if this comes and goes in waves.…When I grew up, it was common to see dogs in pet stores, and now it’s less common,” Ottawa-born Lamarche, 34, told the Straight. “It’s pretty much the last nail in the coffin for puppy mills, because it used to be commonplace in the past. With this bylaw in place, we are guaranteed it won’t come back in the future, regardless of a shift in tastes or attitudes.”

      Pet Habitat was one of the last remaining Vancouver pet stores known to sell pups, but the company has since moved out of its Tinseltown location downtown and refers online customers to its Metropolis at Metrotown location. Lamarche is not perturbed by the thought of people simply jumping on the SkyTrain to Burnaby to circumvent a Vancouver bylaw.

      “Well, that’s the thing: this is a regional issue,” Lamarche responded. “Richmond has already put forward a ban, and at this point the GVRD [Metro Vancouver] is going to have to look at what its strategy is for dogs and a number of different issues. If Vancouver steps up and shows leadership regarding dog safety and treatment, then they will pass it. That closes another link in the chain. And, essentially, you need these other municipalities to work together to solve this issue. But it’s about each municipality showing leadership in animal safety and passing these types of bylaws.”

      Speaking by phone while on vacation, Philip Rooyakkers, president of Vancouver’s Urban Puppy Shop, told the Straight he predicts that all cities “are going to join this bandwagon” and we will see a “real push” for a regional ban on dog sales.

      “Again, what does it do for the consumer, though?” Rooyakkers said. “As a retail store, I truly believe that we did it differently. We knew who our breeders were. We didn’t buy off of puppy brokers. We went through a whole process to qualify our breeders. We also went through a whole process to qualify our owners, right? We also acted as our own rescue.”

      Rooyakkers added: “Unfortunately, what it’s doing, it’s going to take away that position for stores like us—not that there are that many out there—to be able to help people make those kinds of decisions.”

      Lamarche claimed that “there is already a whole grey market for dogs in B.C.”

      “I think the purpose of this is to let puppy mills know that the city of Vancouver is not open for business for their industry and that we want to promote adoption and responsible pet ownership,” he said. “Our preference, of course, is to encourage adoptions from shelters like the B.C. SPCA or the taxpayer-funded Vancouver Animal Control, which is where I got my dog from.”

      Lorie Chortyk, long-time general manager of community relations at the B.C. SPCA, told the Straight her employer “absolutely” supports Lamarche’s proposal.

      “I think people see the cute little puppies in the windows and they don’t realize just how the horrific cruelty goes on in the places where those animals are bred,” Chortyk said by phone. “So even though there are other places that puppy mills and puppy brokers will advertise their animals, the pet-store piece of it is the piece that municipalities can control. It is one piece of the puzzle that shuts down where these people can market these puppies.”

      Lamarche claimed that there are more than 100,000 dogs in Vancouver. He added that a Facebook page he’s set up in their honour now has well over 500 human followers.



      fray parks

      Oct 5, 2011 at 3:58pm

      when will they start to pass laws you cant advertizes in the papers pr on the internet? its all about money and control spca and these rescues are all combined the only one that can sell pets there after the money thell have it yo cant buy a certain animals we people need to fight this its taken away our rights are you people going to allow these hogs to do this to you its just starting

      Morgan McCallum

      Oct 6, 2011 at 12:16pm

      I don't think that a ban on puppy sales in pet stores should be allowed. It's called a "Pet Store" for a reason. You can buy hamsters, birds and cats there, so why not puppies? How about stricter controls on where the puppies come from? Certified breeders would be a good start. Maybe people who are recognized by the varioius Kennel Clubs. And have regular checks. Granted there would be less "mutts" or Crossbred dogs available this way, which may not be ideal, but then again, the SPCA and various other animal rescue organizations would still have the cross-bred animals that come into this world.

      The first thing I think of when I consider getting a pet, is the pet store. Of course, with all the horror stories out there about mills, etc...I avoid them.

      But honestly, I don't think bans are the way to go. Just stricter controls. I am a dog person, and I know the horrors of what go on in Puppy mills. But taking a source of income away from a business is not the way to go. They get caught buying from a puppy mill...then that is different. They violated a law. But...if they are reselling for certified breeders...I think that should be okay.

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      Jason Lamarche

      Oct 6, 2011 at 1:30pm

      Thank you so much for covering this important issue. There are over 100,000 dogs in Vancouver and we need to promote responsible dog ownership by encouraging adoption from shelters and combating puppy mills.

      They say every politician has their "pet" project, well this one is mine ; )

      Sammy Hartman

      Oct 29, 2011 at 2:54am

      Actually if the reporter actually did his research by asking around, I know several people could name the stores they purchased their dogs in. The most famous one is The Urban Puppy Shop which has now taken down the portion of their site for dog sales (perhaps due to Jason bringing up the issue or the past few months of media blitz about puppy mills and pet store sales). But I know several people who purchased dogs from there (pugs in particular). Here's a link to their site with the sale of pugs for $1000 (

      No reputable breeder would sell their puppies to a store for purchase. Most reputable breeders with registered dogs like to meet each potential owner to make sure it's a good fit and that they can feel good knowing the home where they dogs go to. In fact, many ask that you sign a contract stating if you can't keep your puppy for any reason, that you return it to the breeder (no refund, of course).

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      Martin Dunphy

      Oct 29, 2011 at 9:53pm

      Sammy Hartman:

      If you read the article you would see that the reporter not only mentioned the Urban Puppy Shop but interviewed both the store manager and the president.

      Have a nice day.